Paul Fisher



Zigzag through nameless woods,

I scan my skies for chimney smoke.

Like beavers that trouble our pond,

I'm comfortable closer to home.   

I gnaw only edges of worlds. 

When I spit them out, they caulk my lodge

and drip from its cloud-stained dome.

Threadbare firs encircle me

like a nave of blue whale ribs     

while wolves chew the full mead moon

down to opalescent bone.


But I was catching other dreams

at our camp by the cold crater's rim,

the night we skipped star-stones. 

A fool for you, I tossed the crumpled

wings of this poem into our fire,

then kicked at its coals

with my bare, burning feet

till embers hissed, flared, and sputtered out. 

In the land of missed opportunity and stumps

where silence chants its lacquered prayer

and half the language gongs,

I ate our howling ashes – bitter in my belly,

yet sweet as stolen honey

ladled from the Great Bear's tongue.




Searching for the lost coin,

now stubborn in its hiding,

I sweep the hardwood floor,

scour the cedar deck,

rifle drawers, claw through chests,

rake the garden's tangled depths,

mole-roads, rose roots, blackberry crypts,

corner it at last 

– belly-up but breathing –    

behind an empty apple box  

forgotten in the dream-infested

mushroom cellar, pulsing like a toad

resigned to spit and brood

below the creaking timbers of the house.

Tiny as a redwood seed

and rough as pumice stone, it cries

with the thin voice of a penny

when I bend to pick it up,

as if by pleading in the dark

sown deep around us

it could deflect one thorn or thought,

reverse one whirling atom,  

as if by sinking into shadow

it could become the nothing it is not.





Ship horns ooze slow sound today,

cruel, malevolent, oily.

Smears of grey, wolfish light

erase cliffs, and I can't recall

where the corniche curves

or the walk runs laser-straight. 

Cedars anchoring soil to stars disappear.

Wet blades adhere to bare flesh and feet.

All night the fog pressed down

its chloroformed rag. 

A trawler faded, a tanker burned,  

each greasing the edge of saber-sharp reefs.

Morning finds me facing blank screens,

as lost as I was in unmuzzled sun

before clouds inched east

over old-growth spruce, and the mute tide

swaddled our roughshod beach.

Paul Fisher's first book, Rumors of Shore, won the 2009 Blue Light Book Award, and is forthcoming in 2010.  Recent poems appear in Cave Wall, Centrifugal Eye, DMQ Review, Pedestal, Umbrella, Waccamaw, and various other publications. Paul is the recipient of an Individual Artist's Fellowship in Poetry from the Oregon Arts Commission, and a graduate of the MFA program at New England College. He lives in Bellingham, WA, with his wife, two cats and a dog. 



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